What is Figma: A Comprehensive Overview of the Design Platform

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8 min read

    The design world has been revolutionized by Figma, a powerful browser-based design tool that has transformed the way teams collaborate and create interactive experiences for web and mobile applications.

    This article will delve into Figma's key features, benefits, and its role across various industries, offering insights into how it compares with other design tools and its potential for future developments.

    The interface shows multiple pages and design tools, edit Figma files

    What is Figma? The only design tool you'll need.

    Figma is an innovative online platform that revolutionizes how designers and developers create digital products.

    Its cloud-based nature means that it's accessible from any device, anywhere, making it a game-changer for remote teams. Whether it's for creating stunning user interfaces, developing interactive prototypes, or collaborating in real-time, Figma has it all. It's more than just a design tool - it's a design ecosystem that empowers designers to bring their most creative ideas to life.

    Launched in 2016, Figma’s mission is to make design accessible to all and aims to be the only design tool needed for various projects.

    One of its most notable features is that it is entirely browser-based, which eliminates the need for dedicated desktop applications, making it suitable for various design team disciplines.

    Figma has become increasingly popular due to its comprehensive toolset, which includes features for:

    • User interface design
    • User experience design
    • Prototyping
    • Real-time collaboration

    The platform can be accessed through a web browser, desktop application, or mobile application, allowing users to have a source of truth for their designs. With its flexibility and powerful capabilities, Figma has become an indispensable tool for designers and developers alike.

    A team of designers collaborating in real-time on a flexible figma tool. Multiple design files and tools are visible on the screen.

    Key Features of Figma

    Figma stands out with its flexible design capabilities, allowing designers to create responsive designs for diverse platforms. Its array of features includes UI/UX design tools, prototyping, and unparalleled real-time collaboration.

    Real-time Collaboration in Figma

    Figma’s real-time collaboration feature enables teams to work together seamlessly, streamlining the design process and improving communication. In-app commenting for both design and prototyping modes, as well as live updates and real-time collaboration, help facilitate teamwork and collaboration.

    Design to Code in One Space

    A standout feature of Figma is its seamless design-to-code translation, enabling developers to directly inspect and extract CSS from embedded Figma files. Webflow has also started developing a Figma to Webflow plugin which instantly translates design files into Webflow websites.

    Cloud-Based Versioning and History in Figma

    One of the standout features of Figma is its cloud-based versioning and history. This means that all figma design files are automatically saved in the cloud, eliminating the need for manual saves or fear of losing your work.

    Every change you make in a Figma design file is recorded, allowing you to track the evolution of your design and revert to previous versions if needed. Figma does provide the ability to export a Figma file for backup, but it's rarely needed.

    Speed and Performance

    One of the standout attributes of Figma is its impressive speed and performance. Powered by AWS (Amazon Web Services), Figma operates with remarkable efficiency and speed. AWS, the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, provides Figma with a reliable and scalable infrastructure.

    Figma Prototype, with its built-in frame tool, is an effective tool for designers to enhance their design process.

    Interactive Prototyping

    Interactive prototyping in Figma brings ideas to life, offering an intuitive interface for quick testing and iteration. Prototyping in Figma offers the following benefits:

    • Intuitive and straightforward interface
    • Quick testing and iteration on ideas
    • Creating interactive flows to simulate user experience
    • Previewing interactions and user flows
    • Collaborating and refining ideas

    With Figma’s built-in versioning system, designers can create named versions and descriptions of a file, as well as restore automatically saved versions to create a duplicate or overwrite the original, ensuring efficient management of design iterations.

    Whiteboarding with Figjam

    FigJam, a Figma product, serves as an innovative online whiteboard, enhancing team ideation and brainstorming.

    FigJam provides a space where everyone can contribute to the creative process, not just designers. From brainstorming sessions to design critiques, FigJam is a versatile tool that fosters collaboration and innovation within teams.

    We're especially impressed with the AI features in Figjam where you can start a whiteboard with a simple prompt.

    Industries Benefiting from Figma

    Figma's versatility and ease of use make it a popular choice in various industries, such as web and mobile app design, and graphic design.

    A designer using Figma to create a mobile app interface. The Figma platform is visible with flexible design tools.

    Web Design

    Figma plays a significant role in modern web design, helping designers create responsive and visually appealing websites. With features such as Collaboration, Cloud-based storage, Version Control, Prototyping, Developer Handoff, and Responsive Design, Figma offers an array of benefits that make it a valuable tool for web designers.

    Its comprehensive suite of tools and features, including bug tracking tools, enable designers to craft stunning web experiences across multiple pages, ensuring that users enjoy an optimized and engaging browsing experience.

    Mobile App Design

    Mobile app and user interface design can benefit from Figma in the following ways:

    • Figma’s streamlined interface and prototyping tools make app design more efficient and enjoyable.
    • Figma’s comprehensive platform for designing, prototyping, and iterating on app interfaces ensures a smooth design process.
    • Figma’s real-time collaboration capabilities improve efficiency and help create better mobile app designs.

    Graphic Design

    Figma’s diverse toolkit allows graphic designers to create a wide range of content, from social media posts to marketing materials. With an intuitive design tool and a broad range of features tailored to graphic design, Figma facilitates the design process, boosts efficiency, and helps produce superior graphic designs.

    The Figma Community and Learning Resources

    The Figma Community is a vibrant space where individuals, teams, and organizations share and discover creative work, including files, plugins, and widgets. It's a platform that aligns with Figma's vision of making design accessible to everyone, encouraging interaction and support among creators.

    A person accessing Figma forums and groups for learning and collaboration. The Figma platform is visible with sharing features.

    Users can explore a wide range of resources, filtered by types such as files, plugins, and widgets. The Community software also allows users to follow profiles, save resources, and interact through comments and likes, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment for designers worldwide.


    The true strength of Figma lies in its expandability through the use of plugins. These plugins, developed by the Figma community, serve to automate tasks and accelerate workflows, making the design process more efficient and less time-consuming.

    The beauty of Figma's plugin system is that it is open to everyone. This means that if there isn't a plugin that meets a specific need, any user with coding knowledge can create their own and even share it with the community. This continuous expansion and adaptation of Figma's capabilities to meet the needs of its users is the true power of Figma. It is not just a design tool, but a platform that evolves with the needs of its users, constantly striving to improve and streamline the design process.

    Figma Templates

    Figma templates are pre-designed files that expedite the design process. They serve as a starting point, customizable to specific needs, and are applicable to various projects from web design to graphic design.

    Recently, Figma has enabled selling templates, opening a new avenue for designers to earn income. However, the platform still maintains a vast library of high-quality free templates, contributed by the global design community. This ensures that Figma remains a rich source of both free and premium design resources, catering to a wide range of design needs and budgets.

    Figma works seamlessly across different operating systems and devices.

    Who is the best Figma vs. Competitors? A Market Comparison

    Figma distinguishes itself in the design tool market with its unique browser-based functionality, offering unparalleled accessibility and real-time collaboration.

    Unlike Adobe XD and Sketch, which are more desktop-oriented, Figma's platform-agnostic approach ensures seamless operation across various devices and operating systems. This cross-platform compatibility, along with its expansive plugin ecosystem, sets Figma apart as a more versatile tool for design teams in any industry.

    Adobe XD

    Adobe XD and Figma, both robust design tools, have their unique strengths. However, the future of Adobe XD has been uncertain since Adobe proposed an acquisition of Figma. This move led to Adobe XD being put into maintenance mode, but when the deal fell through, the future trajectory of XD became unclear.

    Meanwhile, Figma, with its browser-based nature and real-time collaboration features, continues to thrive and innovate, securing its position as a preferred tool among design teams.


    Sketch, originally introduced as a Mac application, was an innovator in the design tool space, offering a platform that was intuitive and user-friendly. It quickly gained popularity among designers for its simplicity and focus on user interface design. However, Sketch has since transitioned to a browser-based platform, following the trend set by tools like Figma.

    Despite its efforts to adapt, Sketch faces challenges as it was not built from the ground up with the powerful browser-based features that Figma possesses. This puts Sketch somewhat behind in the race, as it attempts to retrofit its platform to compete in a space where Figma has already established strong dominance.

    The Future of Figma for AI Integration and Beyond

    The future of Figma looks promising, with the massive potential of AI integration we expect continued growth and innovation in the design space for figma.

    Editing a figma file in figjam

    AI in Figjam

    FigJam AI in Figma enhances collaborative brainstorming and planning sessions. It aids in organizing and summarizing ideas, particularly useful during team exercises like brainstorms and retrospectives.

    For instance, it can sort and summarize sticky notes, categorizing them by themes and condensing key points.

    Additionally, the Jambot widget, powered by ChatGPT’s AI, assists in brainstorming, note summarization, mind map creation, and even code generation from descriptions.

    These features streamline the process of gathering and refining ideas, making collaborative sessions more productive and efficient.

    AI Plugins

    AI plugins in Figma, such as Genius, Magician, Automator, and others, offer a dynamic way to enhance design capabilities without direct native integration of AI into Figma. These plugins introduce efficiencies in tasks like wireframing, typography selection, and content generation.

    This approach allows for flexibility and customization in the design process, enabling designers to select tools that best fit their specific needs and workflow.

    Future potential

    Figma continues to lead the design world with its constant innovation and growth, shaping the way designers work and create.

    The recent acquisition of Diagram, a suite of AI plugins, has sparked excitement for the future of Figma. These AI tools have the potential to greatly enhance design capabilities, enabling rapid creation of diverse concepts.

    This technology will allow for quick exploration of various design options, significantly reducing the time taken for this process.

    With continuous advancements in AI and the introduction of new features, Figma is set to keep revolutionizing the design field and inspire designers to push their creative limits.


    In conclusion, Figma stands out as a dynamic and potent design tool, characterized by its browser-based functionality, superior collaboration capabilities, and the exciting potential of AI integration. It is not only shaping the present landscape of design but is also paving the way for its future, fostering an environment of innovation and creativity.

    Figma's comprehensive features, real-time collaboration abilities, and unmatched versatility position it as an all-encompassing design tool, revolutionizing the way we create and collaborate in the digital realm.

    The future of Figma holds immense promise. With the possibility for AI integration and a commitment to continuous innovation, Figma is set to illuminate the path for design, inspiring designers globally. We are eager to witness the transformative impact Figma will continue to have on the world of design.

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    Key Takeaways

    1. Figma revolutionizes design collaboration, offering a seamless, real-time experience that connects teams across the globe.
    2. Its robust plugin ecosystem integrates cutting-edge AI functionalities, expanding creative possibilities and design efficiency.
    3. Figma’s adaptability makes it a preferred choice in various sectors, including web, mobile app, and graphic design, thanks to its comprehensive toolset and user-friendly interface.
    4. As a browser-based platform, Figma ensures accessibility and consistent user experience across different devices and operating systems.
    5. A rich community and extensive learning resources in Figma support continuous skill development and innovation among designers.


    What exactly is Figma used for?

    Figma is a web-based design tool for creating, sharing and testing websites, mobile apps, logos and other digital products. It enables designers to create high-fidelity mockups, wireframes, and prototypes with vector editing, prototyping, and collaboration tools. One of its standout features is the real-time collaboration capabilities which enable users to add functionalities like text manipulation, color changes, image adjustments, hovering, scrolling, and animation.

    Why does everyone use Figma?

    Figma has become a go-to tool for many designers due to its unique features and capabilities. Its browser-based nature enables real-time collaboration, making it perfect for teams working remotely. Figma's comprehensive toolset facilitates the creation of everything from websites and applications to logos, all within a single platform. Its compatibility with multiple operating systems like Mac, Windows, Linux, and even Chromebooks, ensures accessibility for all users. Furthermore, Figma's robust community and extensive learning resources encourage continuous skill development and innovation among designers.

    How does Figma compare to Adobe XD?

    While both Figma and Adobe XD are robust design tools, they differ in several ways. Figma's browser-based nature allows for real-time collaboration and accessibility across various devices, while Adobe XD offers robust prototyping and animation tools. The choice between the two often depends on the specific needs and workflow of the design team. As of 2024, XD is in maintenance mode with no sure future.

    How can I learn to use Figma effectively?

    The best way to learn Figma is to dive right in and start experimenting - after all, it's free! The hands-on experience will give you a real feel for the tool. Additionally, you can enhance your learning by exploring the wealth of resources available online. A great place to start is Figma's own resource library at https://www.figma.com/resource-library/design-basics/, which offers a comprehensive guide to design basics. Don't forget, the Figma community is also full of tutorials, forums, templates, and plugins that can aid your learning process.

    Can Figma be used for web design, mobile app design, and graphic design?

    Figma is a popular choice among designers for web design, mobile app design, and graphic design due to its versatility and user-friendly features.